Europe - October, 2012

Planning our first trip to Europe was not an easy task. It gave me a new appreciation of why people go on tours.

Deciphering the German train system was, perhaps, our biggest challenge. Take, for example, the purchase of the rail pass. There are a bewildering number of options on offer, and passes can be purchased from a number of different companies. We finally decided on a 4 day pass for 2 people (the same 2 people always travelling together) being offered on the official Deutsche Bahn website at a special holiday rate. Two weeks later when I was searching for some indication that our order was being processed, I accidentally clicked on a link and discovered that the holiday pass could not be used during the days of our trip although this had not been stipulated at the time of purchase. Our frantic emails were answered in a vague manner so there was no other option but to place an international call. In the end, the holiday pass was cancelled, and a new pass had to be purchased from another company with an additional charge to expedite the order because Deutsche Bahn will only send things by regular mail.

Next came the challenge of planning the trains we would take. Walt spent many frustrating hours trying to do this on the DB website before he discovered a wonderful free app available for the ipad.

Meanwhile I was trying to figure out who would be joining us for various parts of the journey, which cities we should visit, which hotels we should stay in, and what we should see while we were there.

Yep. Tours and cruises. Maybe we should give them a try.